The promise to finally repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit a serious road block in the Senate, and with it a repeal of the Cadillac Tax on employer-provided healthcare. The IAFF and other pro-repeal groups worked with Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Dean Heller (R-NM) to introduce a full repeal amendment. But even with historically broad support for axing the Cadillac Tax, the highly politicized nature surrounding repeal of the ACA would not guarantee a victory. Both Democrats and Republicans were acting overly cautious in fear of giving the opposition a path to victory. In the end, however, the amendment passed 52-48, illustrating the deeply entrenched support for full repeal of this ill-conceived tax.
On July 25, Republicans successfully voted to begin debate on an eventual final plan to roll back and replace many parts of the ACA. What followed was a series of amendments on varying proposals ranging from full repeal to a vote on the recently passed House bill. This process was intended to allow Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the opportunity to slowly try and piece together a working majority he would need to pass a final bill.
With the Senate moving quickly on finalizing its legislative language, an opportunity was seized to offer the amendment to repeal the Cadillac Tax. But after numerous attempts by Leader McConnell to find common ground on a healthcare bill he could rally his conference around, he decided to place the fate of his efforts in a “skinny” repeal plan. This watered-down bill would have eliminated a handful of taxes and loosened regulations around health savings accounts while keeping the majority of regulations in the ACA. However, even this plan did not go far enough for moderate Republicans, whose support was based on lower premiums and broader coverage. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sided with 48 Democrats to end – for now – any effort by the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Under current law, the Cadillac Tax is delayed until January 2, 2020. Despite the failure so far to repeal the ACA in Congress, efforts to fully repeal the Cadillac tax continue. As always, the IAFF is continuing its work with allies in Congress to ensure a full repeal.